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Am J Phys Anthropol. 2015 Jun;157(2):305-21. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22715. Epub 2015 Feb 26.

Virtual taphonomy: A new method integrating excavation and postprocessing in an archaeological context.

Author information

1
Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

Abstract

The objective of this paper was to integrate excavation and post-processing of archaeological and osteological contexts and material to enhance the interpretation of these with specific focus on the taphonomical aspects. A method was designed, Virtual Taphonomy, based on the use and integration of image-based 3D modeling techniques into a 3D GIS platform, and tested on a case study. Merging the 3D models and a database directly in the same virtual environment allowed the authors to fully integrate excavation and post-processing in a complex spatial analysis reconnecting contexts excavated on different occasions in the field process. The case study further demonstrated that the method enabled a deeper understanding of the taphonomic agents at work and allowed the construction of a more detailed interpretation of the skeletal remains than possible with more traditional methods. The method also proved to add transparency to the entire research process from field to post-processing and interpretation. Other benefits were the timesaving aspects in documentation, not only in the excavation process but also in post-processing without creating additional costs in material, as the equipment used is available in most archaeological excavations. The authors conclude that this methodology could be employed on a variety of investigations from archaeological to forensic contexts and add significant value in many different respects (for example, detail, objectivity, complexity, time-efficiency) compared to methods currently used.

KEYWORDS:

3D GIS; 3D models; burial; image-based 3D modeling; osteology

PMID:
25720527
DOI:
10.1002/ajpa.22715
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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